Salt Dental Consultant
Part 2 of 2
I love to share great customer service experiences. I went into a Chick- Fil-A fast food restaurant and, much to my surprise, my expectations were exceeded. I was promptly greeted with a smile and eye contact. Every response was concluded with a “my pleasure.” I never heard the more common “No problem,” which highlights the negative. It was easy to see they had a clear customer service model and had taken the time to train their employees.
An employee that has poor customer services skills is not necessarily trying to provide poor service. Most simply do not know what the basics are and have never been trained. They are hired, showed around a bit, maybe given a manual, but otherwise “thrown into the fire”. Spend time training your team. Take a personal interest in each team member, find out who they are, what innate talents they possess and where they may need extra assistance. While protecting and enhancing their self-esteem, help them develop themselves into the very best that they can be. Do it not only because it helps you get where you want to go, but because it will help them get where they want to go.
Of course this means you need to create a vision of what you want your patients to experience. Make certain your vision is not just a bunch of words on a plaque hung on a wall somewhere. Instead ask each of your employees to write down the vision or mission of your business. See if they have similar feelings about who you are as a practice. If not, perhaps it would be a good idea to schedule some time so you can all get on the same page – time where you can work on your business instead of always working in it. If you don’t have a vision or mission statement, create one. Do it by deciding what you want for yourself and your patients. Don’t just think about what you want this week or next, but five or ten years from now. You’ll achieve more by thinking big and then going over your thoughts and thinking even bigger. Take a tour of your own practice while looking at it with “patient eyes.” Start in the parking area and notice what patients see when they approach your office. What do they smell, hear, and see when they open the door and enter. Stand where patients will stand, sit where they sit, lie down in the chairs and look up at the ceiling. Take notes, set goals and make changes.
Many practices offer water, tea or coffee when a patient arrives. They set out apples, breath mints or chapstick. They provide warm towels after procedures, juice and ibuprofen to go, wipes for eye glasses and some even have spa services. Most patients appreciate these things. Beyond that it can be a bit of a mystery.
How do you find out what your patient expects? Ask what is important to them. Do they want to keep their teeth, get out of pain, and never have an emergency again? Are they concerned about appearance or function or both? Find out. Then give it to them. Seriously, give them what they want and you will have a very appreciative, compliant patient that leaves and tells everyone they know about the best trip to the dentist they’ve ever had.
It is up to us to make what they need align with their personal goals. For example, a patient comes in with a cracking molar that is causing some pain. After addressing the chief complaint you could ask the patient if it is important to them to not have this type of painful experience again. Most likely they will say that it is. That is when you tell them about the opposing molar with a large fracture that if not taken care of will be splitting in half. You’ve told them what they need in a way that aligns with what they told you they want. If a patient comes in and you ask if looks, function and longevity are important and the patient says they like their smile, but definitely want to keep their teeth into old age, then refer back to those statements during your diagnosis. When you give people what they want you meet or exceed their expectations
Customer service starts with an attitude of gratitude. You must have a great appreciation for all of your patients. Yes, even the ones that ask a million questions, show up late, or fail to take your advice and end up being an emergency. They are, after all, the reason you are in dentistry and the reason you receive a paycheck. Create a culture of courtesy that starts with you and your team. Say please, thank you and it’s my pleasure. Think about great customer service experiences, or companies that are well known for their service. The Ritz Carlton, Nordstrom’s and others are great examples. Remember, it starts from the inside out. If you and your team treat each other with respect and courtesy, then it's easy to treat your patients the same way.
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This article was originally published by Tri-County Dental Society Bulletin